Saturday, March 12, 2016

ACIM, AA and Easter – Part 1

Over the years of writing these messages, I have received many comments, criticisms and questions about Jesus, the Bible and the role of Christian dogma as the root of a good spiritual path. What does A Course in Miracles (ACIM), old-timers in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), as well as my own resurrection from the death of alcoholic poisoning have to say about the formal Christian story? As we approach Palm Sunday, followed by Good Friday/Easter, I think it is time to share some of my thoughts on these topics – based on my experiential faith / knowledge.
I wrote my book, How the Bible became the Bible [Infinity Publishing, 2006 ISBN: 978-0-7414-2993-3] before I knew anything about ACIM. I began chapter 9, “The Difficulty in Finding the Right Words,” with: “Throughout the previous two chapters, the issue of communicating deep spiritual realities has been raised. If we cannot begin to see these biblical persons as we see ourselves, then they truly will be different from us. They will be from another age, another era. For them, God will be more a part of their lives than he will be a part of our lives today. If that is the case, then the Bible truly will be of another age as well, to be enjoyed or worshipped for its mystique and magic. But if the biblical writers are as we, then we can begin seeing ourselves in them and seeing them in us. In this way the spirit of God allows the many centuries and different cultural trappings to dissolve, resulting in the spiritual realities, not biblical literalsim, of biblical times becoming true for us today.
“In order to put a human face on the issue of communicating deep spiritual realities, I want to tell you about my journey to sobriety …. [It] was an exceptionally spiritual experience to me. How do I discuss this spiritual experience without sounding “hokey”? How do I find the words to verbalize things I “knew” but didn’t understand and didn’t know how to verbalize? If I had been in one of these initial [first century Christian] groups or associations (either a Jesus Movement group or a Christ Congregation), would I have driven people out of the group? Been driven out? The issues I talk about below are very real to me and explain a “sense” of connection I feel to these early pioneers ….
My Story
“Good Friday fell on April 17 in 1987, and I saw a doctor about my sickness. I will never forget that day because it was the day my Self died. [It was the last day I consumed alcohol.] Of course my Self didn’t decide to die. It had been beaten to a pulp by my abuse of alcohol and all the things that went with it: borderline malnutrition, every kind of deficiency imaginable, and resolute abstinence of exercise.” [p. 175-6]
That’s how I began my story – My self died…. Yet that is exactly what ACIM tells us has to happen to begin waking up to our true reality: We are not humans who have, somewhere inside, an eternal soul; we are already-loved eternal spirits that are currently having a human experience. To experience the reality of Love is to return to the only reality there is. All else we think of as “the real world” is just a creation of our perception, based on what we have been taught.
If I change my perception, I change my world. To change my perception, all I have to do is be willing to ask the Holy Spirit to allow that to happen. To change my perception is not a “goal” or “task” that I must diligently achieve. That’s what my ego (which I call Felix) wants to believe. He wants to stay in charge. He gets very frightened if I truly want to see things differently – to see things as the Holy Spirit sees them. Felix has a right to be frightened. If I saw people, events, and situations as the Holy Spirit saw them, Felix would vanish.
That’s exactly what Jesus did. Christian dogma has taught us that Jesus is the Son of God who came to earth to die for our sins. We receive salvation through having faith in Him and His sacrificial death. However, we humans are, collectively, the Son of God, of whom Jesus is the loving elder brother. Jesus was the first to completely live and perceive as the Holy Spirit lives and sees. He said we could co this too.
That’s exactly what I experienced in AA. For the first time in my life I experienced the power of Love through the genuine acceptance of grizzled old men in church basements. They told me in very explicit terms, “Let us love you until you have learned to love yourself.” I had no idea what that meant. But – man-oh-man – did I ever experience that love and acceptance! It transformed my life.
Jesus saw and responded to the Christ in everyone He met, and these encounters transformed all who came to know Him.  It also scared the beejeezus out of those Felixes who saw Him as a threat to their existence. In His life he perfectly demonstrated the way “home,” which we have never left – except in our misguided perceptions – by practicing true forgiveness. In His crucifixion he taught that even in the most extreme attacks we cannot be hurt and so we can teach only the power and reality of Love and Acceptance – the power of seeing the Christ in all we meet.
People experienced that acceptance and love and, like me, didn’t understand it. They felt transformed by His actions and words, so they worshipped Him with “Hosannas” and palm fronds. They worshipped the messenger rather than the liberating message. Eventually they tweaked and massaged the message until it made egoic sense and their verbalization of their transformation became literal dogma. The experience of the transformative power of the Christ of Faith had been reduced to academic or cerebral explanations – that had to be believed, literally, in order to be saved.
But the Christ of Faith and the Holy Spirit (called The Voice For God in ACIM) are still alive and well and will transform your life as soon as you willingly ask. This, however, is not a once-and-done kind of thing. It’s a daily process of choosing to see  events, people and situations differently and asking the Holy Spirit to make it so.
Although these messages are mostly for me, thanks for listening. As always – feel free to forward this message to your friends, family, and those accompanying you on your spiritual journey.

#2 Mar 2016
Copyright 2016

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